Control orders: BBC reports likely outcome of government review

The BBC that in place of control orders the government is intending to have powers to do the following:

ban suspects from travelling to locations such as open parks and thick walled buildings where surveillance is hard
allow suspects to use mobile phones and the internet but only if the numbers and details were given to the security services
ban suspects from travelling abroad
ban suspects from meeting certain named individuals, but limited to people who are themselves under surveillance or suspected of involvement in terrorism

Under the planned new orders, the security services would lose the power to impose overnight curfews, force suspects to phone into a monitoring company every time they entered or left their homes and lift the ban on them using mobile phones and the internet.

They would also lose the power to force suspects to live in a particular location, known as “relocation orders”, or limit the visitors to their homes.

However, one detail that appears to remain unresolved is over the future of tagging.

This will no longer be used to enforce a curfew by informing the authorities whether or not a suspect is at their home.

But some in government are pushing for the security services still to have the power to tag suspects simply so they can keep tabs on them by knowing if they are no longer sleeping regularly at one particular address.


Initial reactions from Liberal Democrat bloggers:

“Movement on control orders” – Carl Minns

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  • Better than the Status Quo, but still, its a long way from abolishing them completely. I hope the party continues to campaign on this issue.

  • This is a large step in the right direction. It’s difficult to swallow that this is all we’re getting but I’m satisfied our presence in government has made a difference.

  • Foregone Conclusion 11th Jan '11 - 11:00pm

    “ban suspects from travelling to locations such as open parks and thick walled buildings where surveillance is hard.”

    This does sound more than a little stupid…

    Still, could be worse, and it wouldn’t have happened without the Lib Dems.

  • TheContinentalOp 11th Jan '11 - 11:12pm

    A laughably unworkable fudge. It’s the type of half-baked, back of a fag packet policy which is becoming increasingly typical in Alarm Clock Britain.

  • The BBC has also learned that the government is drawing up tough new anti-terror laws that could be rushed through Parliament after a major terrorist incident – in case the new surveillance orders proved inadequate in the face of increased threat levels.

    Whitehall sources said the draft legislation would – if enacted – give the police and the security services effectively the same powers they have now under existing control orders.

    So basically, if we have another terrorist atrocity we are back where we started. Ed Balls is correct, the whole process is a shambles.

  • Darren Reynolds 12th Jan '11 - 9:13am

    I think that what should be banned is expressly what the security services are worried he might do. So if the problem is covert communications, then what you need to do is ban covert communications. If he then does it, that itself becomes an offence.

    Allowing Internet use in this way seems to me to subvert surveillance requirements that even Lib Dems accept may be necessary. I am very surprised if the security services are able to decrypt the strong encryption that might be used to send a covert message over even a disclosed connection. I would expect the research that made such decryption possible to have been published in a peer-reviewed journal as it would be quite a spectacular achievement of maths.

  • Quite simply Cameron has rolled-over on this one to try and salvage Clegg’s last shreds of credibility.

    He shouldn’t have bothered as he ain’t got none left.

    The general public will be at more risk of attack if this fudge of nonsense which could never be termed a ‘policy’ is adopted.

    When an attack comes – and it will – then we’ll go back to a tighter, more repressive control regime which will actually pull-in many more innocents than the current system and that’s labelled ‘progress’.

    And that’s to say nothing of the maimed and injured who might have escaped a terrorist atrocity if we hadn’t forsaken the National Interest to help hold the LibDems together – which won’t work either.

    I hope every one of you who believes this is positive move and an advance in Civil Liberties with spare a thought and a prayer for the Civil Liberties of the dead and wounded yest to come.

  • A Rose by any other name…..

    This is not a scrapping of control orders merely a watering down, a step in the right direction but IMHO not a big enough one. There is also talk in the BBC article of further legislation that “could be rushed through Parliament after a major terrorist incident – in case the new surveillance orders proved inadequate in the face of increased threat levels”.

    For me it is the fact that these are not for a limited time but can extend over many months or even years. This is beyond Police bail (a subject of a recent thread) or even the proposed extended period of pre-charge detention sought by the last Labour government. Civil liberties and trust were two areas where Lib Dems really stood out from the other two parties. Trust is damaged currently it will be a disaster to allow liberties to follow suit.

    Lib Dem MP rightly protested against control orders irrespective of circumstances. It’s either wrong to restrict someones liberty without being prepared to follow Judicial process or it isn’t. I would expect and hope for an abstention. Voting against would be too far but members of the coalition should be able to abstain on principles such as this.

  • So the gist is this:

    1. Reduce them a bit and re name them.
    2. See what happens.
    3. If their’s another terrorist attack, bring them back.

    Isn’t that called putting politics before national security?

  • @Steve Way

    Steve I agree with most of your post.

    But not with abstention on this issue – Free Vote then fine but no abstention as MPs have a duty to their constituents and people in the UK at large to nail their colours to the mast on this one. We can’t just expect the security serv ices and ordinary people to show courage in the face of terrorism – we need it from our MPs as well.

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